If you’ve been around chickens and farms enough you will have heard some wild old wives’ tales about how to maintain the conditions of your chicken coop.
You might have even heard that using garden lime (not the fruit!) in your chicken coops will solve all of your problems, creating a clean and odorless environment.
But is this just a myth, or is there actually truth to this?
Here we go through why garden lime is used in chicken coops, if lime poses any risks to your chooks, and some other tips for deep cleaning your chicken coop.
Why Garden Lime Is Used In Chicken Coops
Not to be confused with the sour citrus fruit, garden lime is actually made from finely ground rock, particularly limestone or dolomite.
So, out of all things, why would garden lime possibly be used in chicken coops or runs. Well, I’ll tell you it’s not just an urban myth.
Garden lime can actually be used as a safe method for drawing moisture from the coop, repelling unwanted pests, and limiting the growth of bacteria that cause bad odors.
Just be sure you are using garden lime in your chicken coop, as opposed to hydrated lime which can be toxic to chickens if consumed or inhaled.
How To Use Garden Lime In Your Chicken Coop
First of all, when applying any foreign substances such as garden lime to your chicken coop, you should always take a conservative approach.
Although there are several benefits to adding garden lime to your coop, in excess it could actually do more harm than good.
So, if you want to reap the benefits without compromising your chicken’s health or wellbeing follow these steps to using garden lime in your chicken coop:
- Give your chicken coop and run a good solid clean-out.
- Sprinkle a very fine amount of garden lime on the bottom layer of your chicken run or coop. This works whether it’s gravel, dirt, or sand.
- Cover this with the top layer of your choice, whether it’s a bit more dirt, sand, straw, or bedding (like when using the deep bedding method in your coop!)
Note: if your garden lime comes as pellets, it’s best to grind it into powder form before applying.
Can I Use Garden Lime In Chickens’ Nesting Box?
Even if you’ve chosen your garden lime carefully and you’re certain it’s not harmful to your chickens it’s still not worth adding it to your nesting box.
Placing a thin layer of garden lime on the coop floor, covered by bedding or other material is simply the best way to go. It will work its magic throughout the whole coop.
Hens like to get nice and comfy in their nesting boxes, particularly if they become broody. Even if the garden lime isn’t necessarily harmful, there’s simply no point risking it, or at the least disturbing them while they are at their most vulnerable.
Will Lime Hurt My Chickens?
The key question you should ask before changing anything in your chicken’s environment is: could this be harmful to my chickens?
In the case of lime, you need to be cautious. Although most types of lime are completely harmless to use around your chickens and coop, any types of lime containing calcium hydroxide can be bad for your chickens.
So, it all comes down to which type of lime you are using.
Garden Lime Is OK
Also known as limestone, aglime, and agricultural lime, garden lime is organic and isn’t harmful to chickens. It’s commonly known as a neutralizer of soil pH and eliminates bad smells.
Hydrated Lime Is Dangerous For Chickens
Also known as Calcium hydroxide, hydrated lime is considered toxic to chickens. It’s used as a strong disinfectant.
Never use this anywhere close to your chickens. Hydrated lime can easily cause skin irritation, discomfort, burns, and can be incredibly dangerous if ingested by your chickens!
Key Points To Remember
- Make sure you always use garden lime/agricultural lime. If in doubt, check the label for toxicity warnings and always follow directions.
- Always use a glove when handling the lime powder, to be safe.
- Make sure that you lock the chickens out while you clean and spread your lime powder.
- Always cover the lime powder with something, don’t simply leave it on surfaces in and around the coop.
- A little goes a long way.
So it’s true.
Using garden lime in your chicken coop can be a wonderfully easy way to rid of smells and discourage pests and predators.
If you’re concerned that lime will hurt your chickens, that’s fair enough. For this reason, always be 100% certain you are using completely organic garden lime.
You don’t need much. Use it sparingly.
If you do, you can enjoy its wonderful benefits to your chicken coop, without your chickens even batting an eye.